For the past 11 years, Michigan wineries have played an integral role in the Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival. This year, the newly-formed Traverse Wine Coast—featuring wineries from both Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas—are making their presence known in a big way, November 15-17 at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids.
The Traverse Wine Coast is home to two of Michigan’s five American Viticulture Areas (AVAs), situated within northwest Michigan’s premier grape-growing region (one being the Leelanau Peninsula and the other the Old Mission Peninsula). Thirty-five wineries are located within diverse microclimates uniquely suited for a variety of wine grapes; 20 of those wineries will be in Grand Rapids for this year’s Festival (see list below) on display in the south end of The Vineyard (Steelcase Ballroom).
The objectives of Traverse Wine Coast focus on national promotion, media relations and increasing the local wine presence—which includes a collective appearance at events such as this Festival. While these objectives become a combined focus, both the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail and Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula continue to operate on other tasks as they have in the past.
As part of the Festival, several complimentary “tasting sessions” presented by Traverse City area winery representatives are planned throughout the weekend in the Welsh Lobby at the south end of the Steelcase Ballroom at DeVos Place.
Thursday, November 15
- (7-8pm) Not Your Grandma’s Rosé: A Tasting of Rosés. Paul Hamelin of Verterra Winery will explore the world of Rose’s. While these have been mainstays of summer wine consumption in Europe for decades it has only recently become fashionable in the US to consume these fantastic “Pink” wines. Learn how they are made and what grapes make the best Rose’.
Friday, November 16
- (6-7pm) Alsatian Pinot Blancs: The Other Great White Wine of Eastern France. Paul Hamelin of Verterra Winery will share insights on Pinot Blancs which are noble grapes with a long European heritage which are extremely popular in France Germany, Italy (Pinot Bianco) and Austria. They are rarely planted here in the US, yet northern Michigan has found some great success with them. Come to explore why this has happened and taste TWC Pinot Blancs, which are establishing a new grape varietal for wine consumers.
- (8-9pm) Grüner Veltliner and Blaufränkisch: An Austrian Twist. Robert Brengman from Brengman Brothers will delve into these Austrian favorites while sharing details about their Leelanau Peninsula winery and their new Grand Rapids location, Forty Pearl, at the downtown intersection of Pearl and Ottawa (which also includes beverages from Bonobo Winery, Bel Lago Winery, and Grand Traverse Distillery).
Saturday, November 17
- (2:30-3:30pm) Sparkling Wines: A Tasting of Bubblies from the Traverse Wine Coast. Paul Hamelin of Verterra Winery will explore the history of Sparkling wines. How they are made, decipher the scale of sweetness as established by the French centuries ago. Taste several Sparkling wines produced by the Wineries of the Traverse Wine Coast.
- (4-5pm) Rieslings: A Tasting of Traverse Coast Rieslings from Sweet to Dry. Robert Brengman from Brengman Brothers will cover the full scope of Riesling grown in northwest Michigan, while sharing details about their Leelanau Peninsula winery and their new Grand Rapids location, Forty Pearl, at the downtown intersection of Pearl and Ottawa (which also includes beverages from Bonobo winery, Bel Lago Winery and Grand Traverse Distillery).
- (5:30-6:30pm) Getting Naked with Chardonnay: Unoaked vs Oaked. Todd Oosterhouse from Bonobo Winery will cover the history of chardonnay and the evolution to the present day. The seminar will also discuss the different types of Chardonnay clones, vineyard practices and effects, along with the different styles and why chardonnay works so well in Northern Michigan.
- (7-8pm) Pinot Noir: A Tasting of Pinot Noirs. Charlie Edson from Bel Lago Vineyards will focus on the challenge and pure joy of Pinot Noir, made by two winemaking teams that focus on this premier cool climate red grown in the Traverse Wine Coast region.
- (8:30-9:30pm) A Tasting of Cool-Climate Reds from the Traverse Wine Coast. Blake Lougheed from Bel Lago Vineyards will focus on the premier cool-climate reds grown in the Traverse Wine Coast region. He will pour wines from several producers to show varying styles and the impact vineyard and winemaking style have on the final wine.
In addition to offering samples of its various wines, Traverse Wine Coast and Traverse City Tourism are giving away three individual get-away packages, each including at least one overnight at either Black Star Farms, Chateau Chantal or Chateau Grand Traverse. Guests of the Festival can register to win one of these get-aways in the Traverse Wine Coast area inside the Steelcase Ballroom.
Look for these participating Traverse Wine Coast wineries at the Festival:
- Aurora Cellars
- Bel Lago Vineyards & Winery
- Black Star Farms
- Bonobo Winery
- Bowers Harbor Vineyards
- Brengman Brothers at Crain Hill Vineyards
- Chateau Chantal
- Chateau Grand Traverse
- Ciccone Vineyard & Winery
- 45 North Vineyard & Winery
- French Valley Vineyards
- Good Harbor Vineyards
- Hawthorne Vineyards
- Leelanau Wine Cellars
- Left Foot Charley
- Mari Vineyards
- Rove Estate Vineyard
- Shady Lane Cellars
- Soul Squeeze
- Verterra Winery
The 11th Annual Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival is expected to draw more than 18,000+ people throughout its three days. With more than 120,000 square feet (that equates to over 3 acres) of tasting experiences and more than 1,800 beverages for sampling, this one-of-a-kind event is the largest culinary Festival in the entire Midwest.
*Attendance at this festival is for those 21 years of age and older. ID is required for admittance.